NEWS BLOG (WSAU) I'm going to quit smoking. I'm going to lose weight. And usually those New Years resolutions fail.
Not that they aren't good intentions. Not smoking or getting in shape are laudable goals. But they require permanent lifestyle changes. For most of us, they're too hard. We don't do well when we make permanent decisions on a few days notice.
Now comes an interesting cover story from the New Years Day edition of The Wausau Daily Herald: http://www.wausaudailyherald.com/article/20100101/WDH0101/1010448/-1/archive
In 2000, they asked a group of middle school students about their thoughts, hopes, and dreams for the new decade. Many of those wishes were personal goals... things those young people would like to have for themselves as they get older. 10 years later they are adults. The results are mixed. A middle-schooler who was an anti-smoking crusader now has the habit. Another who wanted a dog still hasn't taken the leap into the responsibilities of pet ownership. A young man who wanted to drive a Hummer now drives a hybrid.
This is a microcosm of the way long-term goals play out. Sometimes there are exceptional people who set one and diligently work towards it and have success. For most of us, long term goals are elusive. Our priorities change. We find out that we don't really want to do all the things we need to do to reach them. We settle. We compromise. We fall into our old traps and habits.
Instead of making resolutions this new year, maybe we should break those things down into small bite-size promises to ourselves. Instead of quitting cold-turkey, maybe we'll cut out smoking breaks at work. Instead of dropping 50 pounds, maybe one fewer fast-food meal each week. The old proverb is true, long journeys begin with a single step.
Operations Manager, Midwest Communications-Wausau